“Jesus told Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on you will catch people instead of fish.” Luke 5:10
Times of dissatisfaction, disappointment and discouragement in our mundane lives are opportunities for “bushes afire with God” encounters. We need such spiritual encounters to fill our hearts with wonder and awaken our minds. We need the spirit of repentance to open our eyes to see and our ears to hear the gospel truth that “the righteous shall live by faith.”1
The apostle Peter and his friends were washing their fishing nets beside their boats when Jesus stepped into one of the boats and used it to preach to the crowds pressing in on him. After preaching to the people, Jesus told Peter to move his boat deeper into the sea and to let his nets down to catch some fish. But Peter and his friends had worked hard through the night and had caught nothing. However, he obliged a complete stranger to do something that he probably felt was a waste of time.
Peter’s obedience is the expression of his humble, contrite and submissive heart and he was awestruck by the huge number of fish they caught.2The miracle opened Peter’s eyes to his sinful nature and the holiness of Jesus. It drove him to his knees to ask Jesus to leave him. But Jesus told him not be afraid as God has a higher calling for him.
Miracles reveal the condition of the spiritual soil of our hearts – are they filled with the weeds of greed, pride and lust or with the wheat of humility, thanksgiving, and reverence? Greed will tempt us to turn stones into bread. But a heart that is seeking God’s heart will be humbled by God’s miracles. We will confess that, “we are not worthy so much as to gather the crumbs under Your table.”3
We will be awestruck by the wonder of God’s grace to see the awful state of our sinful hearts – we will be moved from wow to woe. Like Moses, when God spoke to him from a burning bush, an encounter with the divine will fill us with awe and fear.4 Like Isaiah, we will be filled with a sense of doom as we realize that we live among people with sinful lips.5
But God does not want us to be afraid of Him but to advance the Kingdom of heaven here on earth by following Christ. God sees our hearts and understands everything we do. God knows our thoughts and how deceitful our hearts are. But God’s precious thoughts about us cannot be numbered.6 The good news is that Jesus came to deliver us from shame and blame and to restore our identity as the children of God. When we feel abandoned we can turn our eyes to the cross of Christ and to rest in the truth that God never abandons us. We are the ones who have turned away from God. We forget that we are always in God’s presence.
The spiritual disciplines of prayer and meditating on God’s Word are to keep us from wandering away from God and to fill us with a sense of wonder of God’s mysterious grace. We read the bible not just to hear what God is saying to us but to be inspired to do what we need to do and to be who God wants us to be. The spiritual habits of meditation and prayer are to keep us connected with God and to anchor our faith in the righteousness of Christ.
Everything that is happening in the world, like the Ukraine war and the pandemic, are ways by which God is reminding us of His sovereignty and our need to wait on Him. It is in waiting on God that we can be attentive to the ways in which God is calling us to do the good things that He has planned for us.7 Peter did not choose to follow Jesus. Jesus invited Peter to a higher calling from being a fisherman. Our calling is to live out the truth of the gospel – “’Christ Jesus came to save sinners’ and I am the worst of them all.”8
The Kingdom of heaven is in our hearts and is seen in our lives when Jesus reigns as our Servant King. We need the “be-attitudes” of the spirit of poverty and the spirit of mourning to surrender our hearts and minds to the will of God. The war in Ukraine is but a reminder that we are in the midst of a greater war – the spiritual battle for our minds and hearts. We are wrestling with rulers, authorities, the powers who govern this world of darkness, and spiritual forces that control evil in the heavenly world.9 But the Spirit in us is greater than the spirits in the world.10 Furthermore, the battle belongs to the Lord and our ability to live out our faith is rooted in the righteousness of Christ. We can practice praying, “Jesus Is Lord”11 in our free moments throughout the day to “rewire” our brains.12 It is a way to pray without ceasing.13
As I was meditating early this morning, the chirping of the birds evoked a sense of wonder of God’s mysterious ways. It was such a privilege to enjoy with God the music of a bird’s song as I savour the truth that God’s precious thoughts about me outnumber the grains of sand. And the words of the hymn, How Great Thou Art, flooded my soul:
“When thru the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze,
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!”14
Lord, help me keep a humble, reverent and obedient heart so that I can advance Your Kingdom here on earth by being a channel of Your amazing grace.
- What sinful desires do I need to surrender to God?
- How can I keep myself from wandering away from God especially in times of success?
- How can I be attentive to the miraculous workings of God in the mundane moments of my life?
Song of Praise
How Great Thou Art
- Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17
- Luke 5:1-11
- A Service Of Word and Table IV, The United Methodist Hymnal, pg 30
- Exodus 3:1-6
- Isaiah 6:5
- Psalms 139:1-17
- Ephesians 2:10
- I Timothy 1:15
- Ephesians 6:10-12
- 1 John 4:4
- Romans 10:9
- Inspired by Thomas Keating suggestion of “The Active Prayer Sentence” in his book, “Open Mind, Open Heart (page 171)
- 1 Thessalonians 5:17
- How Great Thou Art